Bloody Cross, Vol. 1

By Shiwo Komeyama. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine Shonen Gangan. Released in North America by Yen Press.

I was interested in what this title would be like the moment I saw it licensed. Shonen Gangan has a fairly high success rate for me – I am a big fan of Soul Eater, and of course Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the finest manga out there. And yes, it also had two things that made it almost inevitable that North America would license it: vampires, and religious imagery recoded in a fantasy world. (It does amuse me that a story where heaven is engaged in a bloody war of succession is absolutely fine, but Jesus and Buddha living in an apartment as best buds is something we are unlikely to ever see. Oh, North America, when will you learn…?) So after reading the first volume, I’m a bit disappointed that I wasn’t quite blown away.


Not to say that this is bad, and indeed it shows great promise. It’s worth noting that unlike most shonen manga you see these days, this one is totally fine with every protagonist, antagonist, and mook/minion being a self-serving, backstabbing, distrusting person. Our hero and heroine meet trying to kill each other, occasionally make a show of continuing to do this as the volume goes on, and while there is attraction between them it seems to be based on lust and desire more than the purer emotions. Which makes sense given that Tsukimiya is half-vampire, and she promptly infects Hinata with her cursed blood. That said, the angels we see in this book are, if anything, worse. I’d say it has an Angel Sanctuary vibe, except that had actual innocents in it. There’s nothing like that here.

There’s also quite a lot of action in this volume, which helps to pass the time between trying to build up the plot. Our protagonists start out looking for demon blood, then have to find a sacred book, then we move on to a sacred key, and finally can use the key and the book to try to break the blood curse. If it sounds a bit like a video game, well, the author’s only other major work was a Star Ocean spinoff manga, so she has that sort of feel to her writing already. The action flows pretty well, with a bit more gore than I’m used to from fantasy titles, but then this isn’t meant to be a fun or pleasant world. Everyone suffers fatal wounds here, except being combinations of angel, demon and vampire, these woulds are rarely genuinely deadly.

I suppose the main problem with Bloody Cross is that after only one volume, I don’t quite have a handle on it. I suspect this may become a series like Bleach, where it reads much better if you take in 5-6 volumes a year in one gulp rather than reading one every 3 months. It may also probably benefit from rereading. As it is, this is a Chapter One. It’s intriguing enough that I want to find out more, but it hasn’t quite grabbed me yet – possibly as there’s no one I’m quite willing to root for yet. Even Tsukimiya, who we’re clearly *meant* to be rooting for, seems like she hasn’t earned our favor yet. We shall see what happens next.

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